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The science behind the zoning plan

Rangers on patrol in Moreton Bay.

Rangers on patrol in Moreton Bay.

Developing an effective marine park zoning plan is a complex process that relies on extensive research, information and data. This page gives an overview of the science behind Moreton Bay Marine Park's zoning plan review, and outlines some of the key principles that were used to gather and assess all the information required.

Guiding the review: Independent expert advisory panel

The department established the expert advisory panel in February 2007, at the start of the review process. The Panel comprised experts across fields including marine reserve design, fisheries science, environmental economics and social science. Their role was to provide the department with expert advice and to ensure the scientific integrity of the review. This included:

  1. the development of a series of 13 Scientific Guiding Principles—the 'rules' for making sure the zoning plan met environmental and social need
  2. the development of a habitat model—a map of the marine park showing its 16 different habitat types
  3. recommendations on the adequacy and quality of socio-economic and environmental data
  4. an analysis method—setting out the process for gathering and analysing all the information.

The Panel also provided advice on the adequacy of existing protected areas in the marine park and oversaw the integrity of the scientific methods used in the review.

1) Scientific guiding principles

The Expert Advisory Panel considered local, state, national and international research into marine parks—as well as Queensland's obligations under various state, national and international agreements and pieces of legislation—to develop the 13 Scientific Guiding Principles or 'rules' for the review.

Research from around the world show that an effective marine park is one that:

  • has a sample of every different habitat type represented in 'no take' areas
  • has a large enough area of 'no take' areas
  • meets conservation goals while minimising the impact on users
  • considers the many operational issues so that the zoning can be efficiently managed and enforced.

The department used the 13 Scientific Guiding Principles to assess each area in the marine park. Two of the key guiding principles for this review were:

  • environmental—to make sure at least 10% of each of the 16 different habitat types was conserved in a 'no take' area; and
  • social—to make sure the zoning has the least possible impact on the many different people who use the marine park.

2) The habitat model: making sure all the habitats are represented

Habitat types and marine national park (green) zones

Habitat types and marine national park (green) zones

The habitat map was the basis for all zoning decisions. It was used to make sure the zoning met the Scientific Guiding Principles; most importantly, of having each habitat type represented in a 'no take' area.

This map of habitat types and marine national park (green) zones (PDF, 1.7M) clearly shows the habitat types covered by each green zone.

This is the most comprehensive habitat map of the Moreton Bay's habitats currently available. It was developed using existing research, reports and data, as well as information from a study of the offshore areas commissioned by the department specifically for the review.

3) Gathering the data

The department gathered more than 200 sets of information about the marine park which were used—as required under the Scientific Guiding Principles—to make sure the zoning gave the greatest possible environmental outcome, while having the least possible impact on marine park users. This included the full range of environmental, social, economic and cultural data about the marine park.

In addition to data such as, for example, recreational and commercial fishing records, the department also established a Stakeholder Reference Group of more than 30 key stakeholder representatives, and conducted an online survey to gather more information about how the marine park is used, which areas are most popular and what marine park users like/dislike about individual areas. This information was combined to develop a list of candidate areas, which was then refined to develop the draft zoning plan which was released for wide public consultation in December 2007.

4) Analysing the information

Analysis Method Diagram

Analysis Method Diagram

The analysis method diagram (PDF, 69K) shows how all this information was considered to develop the draft zoning plan, which was released for public consultation in December 2007.

Last updated
20 March 2015